Well… that was anticlimactic. After patiently waiting three full episodes for the showdown between Candiace and Ashley Darby in Portugal, it finally happened and it was… just okay. Nothing to write home about. A rare moment of overselling, underdelivering for RHOP. Any altercation after The Great Barn Brawl of 2019 was going to be a bit disappointing, but this was more of a letdown because the producers (who have been so good to us thus far) made the mistake of giving us the climax of the fight in the teasers for two weeks running. If you’re going to tease a fight for two-plus weeks it better be at least 42 percent more exciting than the part that you’ve already shown us, and that simply wasn’t the case here.
But I’m getting ahead myself, as the episode begins with Ashley Darby poolside with Gizelle and Robyn, explaining why she wrote the statement for Monique. Ashely Darby makes her first major unforced error of the season, telling the girls that now she and Candiace can finally “call it an even.” Oof. Tough choice of words there, because now it sounds like Ashley is only helping Monique in order to get back at Candiace instead of because of some moral imperative to help her friend. Obviously, Giz and Rob latch onto that specific and unfortunate phrasing from Miss Darby, and warn her that her relationship with Candiace is basically over.
Meanwhile, Candiace is getting ready for her day and singing a little ditty about having a camel toe. It’s the best she’s ever sounded, however I’m 90 percent sure that’s because of the acoustics in the bathroom. In confessional, Candiace says that she’s actually open to having a friendship with Ashley Darby, which is kind of wild because we, the studio audience, know that Ashley Darby is a mere 48 hours from making sure that this friendship never happens. Oh, the dramatic irony! Even on its off days, Real Housewives of Potomac is the single greatest piece of art to come out during a pandemic. King Lear can suck eggs.
Beyond the Ashley-Candiace storyline this episode is basically devoid of drama, but is still pretty fun because these women are reality TV gold. During a stunning cliffside rocky beach moment, the ladies discuss whether or not the water is safe to drink in Madeira, which ultimately leads to them discussing their pum pums, a major theme of the episode. I must say, the woman of Potomac simply love talking about their vaginas, and I love that for them. When someone brings up water quality my first thought is usually not “Now, how will this affect my genitals?” but we all process information in different ways. Ashley “I’ll have a beer” Darby comes out to play, proving once again you can take the girl away from the Corona but you can’t take the Corona away from the girl (this applies to the beer and the virus). She begins pumping away in public (which is her right!), and Karen starts pretending to be the breast pump, adding it to her long list of incredible impressions. Melissa Villaseñor should watch her back.
Speaking of great impressions, let’s talk about Dr. Wendy in that light blue caftan moment. I absolutely loved it. Drive-thru Wendy twerking in her caftan and slides gave me life, degrees be damned. What didn’t give me life, however, was when Wendy began egging on Candiace to perform that damn remix of hers. Candiace doesn’t even give us a courtesy “don’t make me sing” moment, before making the girls shoot a whole-ass music video of her. The producers switch into the Nashville filter from Instagram to film this iconic moment as the ladies sing along to her song. They sound terrible, but they know every word (mostly because the lyrics are the words “I see you” over and over again), and honestly it’s a lovely show of support for their friend’s misbegotten music career. Ashley Darby doesn’t look up from her phone the entire time and quietly excuses herself to the bathroom once Candiace is finished because that’s what you do when you have nothing nice to say after someone’s performance.
The only little kernel of drama we get at the beach obviously comes courtesy of Messy Gizzy, who pulls Candiace aside to ask her how she feels about Karen, who is off reenacting scenes from the Titanic with Ashley Darby, which is funny because they are not on a boat. Unsurprisingly, Candiace’s answer is a variation of ummm… not great because La Grande Dame has yet to swear allegiance to Candiace, even though Candiace considers Karen to be her closest ally in the group. Messy Gizzy sits there, nodding her head, telling Candiace that she’s proud of her and strengthening their bond, full well knowing that there will soon be another opportunity to force Karen to publicly pick a side. It’s clear that Messy Gizzy is invested in this saga more for the potential dethroning of La Grade Dame than anything having to do with Candiace or Monique, which is frankly a more compelling B-plot than the A-plot we’re being served this whole episode. Gizelle is Iago, Karen is Othello, and Candiace is our helpless Desdemona caught in the middle. King Lear can once again suck eggs.
The ladies leave the stunning cliffs of Madeira and get ready for dinner. Karen FaceTimes Mr. Bad Dick (sorry, Ray) and shows off her (cute!) Chanel outfit. “I miss the days when it was as simple as having a feather and a handcuff to get the sparks going,” Karen opines in confessional, revealing more and more about the work that goes into her and Ray-Ray’s sex life. Next confessional, I expect she’ll say, “Ahh, the good old days when all it took was the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold to get my man going.” (And yes, now I need a revival of Into The Woods with Karen Huger as The Witch). All the women look nice except Robyn, who wears a bright neon green maxidress and a studded jean jacket. She’s simply not doing the outfit justice. At dinner, it’s revealed that Karen has been lying through her teeth about her ulcer when she orders a glass of champagne. During her confessional, Messy Gizzy gets on Google and finds out that one glass of champagne can literally kill you if you have an ulcer. Wow, she didn’t have to go so hard.
After a pleasant round of “men ain’t shit” dinner table conversation, Robyn decides to get to the good stuff and asks who’s been sending their man tasteful nudes while they’ve been in Portugal. She’s shocked to find out she’s the only one. That’s Robyn for you: a freak in the sheets, asleep in the streets. Candiace decides the dinner table is a perfect time to send White Chris a photo of her “Hershey’s kisses” (her words, not mine), and we get a fun montage of Candiace attempting to take a tit pic under a blanket at a public restaurant. In many ways, this dinner is The Last Supper, because everyone’s having fun and drinking wine and having a blast. Tomorrow night, Ashley Darby will spill the beans just like Peter did in the Bible the third time the cock gets slammed during the disciples’s dominatrix night (sorry, I don’t really remember what happens in the Bible.) The good times are coming to an end.
But we still have one more day of fun in the sun before Ashley Darby ruins everything, as is her wont. The ladies ride motorcycles and sidecars to a poncha bar, and all of their helmets have little Britney Spears mics, which was a cute touch. At the poncha bar, Robyn announces that the photos for Embellished hats have arrived, and the gals take out their phones and ogle their gorgeous shots, except for Karen because Robyn left her off the website. Instead of throwing a fuss, Karen simply says, “I’m good.” What an incredible, BDE move by La Grande Dame. A lesser reality TV person (cough Jen Shah on RHOSLC cough) would try and use this moment to manufacture drama for the show, but Karen literally doesn’t care about Robyn’s ugly hats and lets it go like the pro that she is. In confessional, Karen says “Thank you,” shows off the worst part of the hat, and proceeds to throw it on the trash with a curt, “Next.” I bow down to Ariana Grande stan Karen Huger. She’s probably not too concerned with being left off Robyn’s website because she’s starting a new business of her own: a wig line. (Okay!) Karen’s having a launch party when they return to Potomac and invites all the girls. When Robyn point-blank asks if Monique is invited, Karen says she isn’t, but looking at the teaser for next week that appears to not exactly be true (thank god).
Finally we get to the main event of the episode: the dominatrix party. I’ll be the first to say it, I want a dominatrix night every season. The ladies-getting-ready montage was H capital O to the T, with everyone breaking out the bustiers, knee-high boots, and leather whips and chains. Cue Rihanna’s “S & M.” (Bravo was too cheap to buy the rights, but it’s what the moment deserved.) Gizelle and Ashley Darby are the hosts of this event, so they’re the first to arrive, both looking positively devilish in red, booby outfits. Gizelle breaks out what I assume is a big black dildo, but I can’t say for sure because Bravo censored it with the eggplant emoji. I’m honestly shocked that Bravo blurred out the black dildo. I feel like I see a dildo or vibrator or some type of vaginal stimulation device every seven minutes of RHONY, but we can’t see one on RHOP… I don’t like that, Andy. I don’t like that at all.
The rest of the ladies arrive one by one. Wendy is giving more sexy secret agent than dominatrix, but it’s hot nonetheless. Robyn rocks a bold lip, but could have stepped up her game a little bit on the fashion front. Karen is serving Madam of Ill Repute realness, which is totally her vibe. Only Candiace really understands the assignment, and shows up wearing a skimpy, leather Playboy Bunny-lite outfit. 10s across the board. She looks so good that queer icon Ashley Darby gets turned on in her confessional, which makes what’s about to happen even sadder. Maybe they’ll kiss and make up? (Narrator voice: They do not.) The ladies begin the evening by answering some sexy questions. Karen’s answers lead me to believe that maybe Ray Huger doesn’t have the worst dick in the world, but perhaps Karen (shockingly) doesn’t like dicks all that much. She reveals that she has “retired her mouth” and has not given Ray a blowjob in two and a half years. I’m not one to speculate but… could that be part of the reason his love tank has run a little empty? We learn a lot about the ladies’ sex lives during the game. Eddie’s more dominant in bed with Wendy. No one’s masturbating enough. Robyn almost came during a massage while pregnant. And Karen has the pillow fetish, which thankfully doesn’t involve the My Pillow guy but does involves a vibrating pillow and her WAP.
After a fun montage of the ladies genuinely enjoying each other’s company and rubbing up on one another, Ashley ruins everything and drops the bomb about her statement for Monique. Once Ashley spills, Wendy flips into Dr. mode and describes what a character witness statement is, which we all already know because we’ve seen Law and Order: SVU. Rather than absolutely losing her shit, Candiace resorts to gossip, saying that Monique has talked “cash money shit” about Ashley and Michael Darby which I definitely believe, because duh its’s Ashley and Michael Darby. “You care about STRATEGERY,” screams Candiace, brining hateration and holleration into their dancerie. While Ashley Darby maintains that her only goal is to lessen what could possibly happen to Monique, dynamic duo Giz and Rob bring up that Miss Darby mentioned getting even with Candiace, prompting Wendy to call her a snake. Candiace finds a way to plug the name of her song “I See You” (now streaming on all platforms), thank Ashley Darby for telling her this info to her face, and then hurl a resounding “fuck you” at her as well. Miss Darby ultimately decides she’s who’s decided she’s had enough and returns to her hotel room.
The ladies are left to sift through the wreckage of the destruction Ashley Darby has caused, with all eyes turning to Karen to see if she’s finally ready to join team Candiace. Karen will not be bullied into submission and stays staunchly in the middle, saying she has information that the other ladies don’t have from Monique about the fight. That information is just the fact that Candiace admitted to “releasing a wine glass onto” Monique in her statement to the police, which I guess shows some amount of culpability for what transpired between the two. But also, did we not already know that? Am I going crazy? I feel the footage clearly shows a glass of wine going from Candiace’s hand towards Monique’s body after Monique played with Candiace’s hair and before she beat the ever-living shit out of her. I guess this info may change things for some people but my question remains: for who?
Candiace screams about the “unmitigated gall” of Ashley Darby to go against her, someone who was cruel to her after suffering a miscarriage. Karen sends prayers up — not in the direction of Monique or Candiace, but rather just generally above her. Candiace, dabbing at her eyes with that damn tissue, says it’s too late for Monique to apologize now and insinuates that she would have accepted an apology from Monique earlier on. Umm… didn’t you press charges within 48 seconds of the incident happening? That doesn’t leave that much room for an apology tour from Monique (not that she was going on one, but still). While most of the women seem moved by Candiace’s display of tears, the Academy of Karen Huger is not buying this performance from Candiace, and neither am I. When all the dust settles, the ladies are forced to lament as to how such a fun trip could end on such a rotten note.
Both Ashley Darby and Candiace FaceTime their white husbands after dominatrix night, to tell them what happened. Each white husband validates his wife’s point of view, while also stoking the flames of animosity between them. And this is how we say goodbye to the City of Portugal, not with a bang but with a whimper. But that’s okay, because next week, we’re back in the Chesapeake Bay, celebrating Karen’s wig launch with a surprise guest. I’ll give you a hint: her name rhymes with Shonique.